Jake Hager: Why the Bellator MMA fighter's inclusion in AEW is important for both companies
Jack Swagger has had an impressive career in the world of professional wrestling and combat sports.
While not the most beloved WWE Superstar, during his time with the company, Swagger was able to hold World Championships. Not only that, his wrestling career as an amateur was also impressive, holding the title of 'All-American'.
Swagger's inclusion in the faction is an extremely important move by AEW for Bellator MMA, and here's why.
Jack Swagger in Bellator MMA
Jack Swagger is now a big part of the AEW brand. But before that, in 2019, Hager launched his MMA career as a part of Bellator MMA.
In his 3-fight long MMA career, he has two wins via arm-triangle chokes against J. W. Kiser and T. J. Jones and an unfortunate no-contest.
In his fight against Jones, there was some controversy surrounding the ending, with the fans pointing out that Hager did not release the arm of Jones immediately. It was later confirmed that while Jones had tapped out, Hager was not the one to blame. He was not aware that his opponent had tapped out due to the noise in the stadium, and it was only when the referee made contact with him that he realized what had happened.
His last fight saw some controversy yet again, as Hager was the one that the fans blamed. He kicked his opponent inadvertently on the groin, which resulted in a no-contest.
Thankfully, he still retains his undefeated record, but with his involvement in AEW, something else comes into question.
Why AEW and Bellator MMA can help each other
AEW is the second-biggest wrestling promotion in the world at the moment, at least in terms of hype. That is the same honor that Bellator has had for years when it comes to their position in the world of MMA.
WWE and UFC have apparently come to an understanding, and their fighters and wrestlers often drift back and forth between the promotions.
While Brock Lesnar is the most obvious example, Ronda Rousey and more recently, Cain Velasquez are both big UFC names who decided to make a change in their career to come to WWE.
This has helped the company to gain a large mainstream audience, who perhaps are only watching due to the presence of the MMA fighters. The product is getting more popular than ever before.
When it comes to AEW, the product is made for hardcore wrestling fans. They enjoy it and love the alternative to WWE that they have been handed.
However, Bellator MMA is the perfect opportunity for AEW to grow even further. With Jake Hager's involvement in AEW being popularised while on the show and the rest of his faction, 'The Inner Circle' sitting cage-side, even a fraction of the Bellator audience might find an interest and tune in to the next AEW show. This is the best possible result for everyone.
In turn, Hager's MMA career is popularised on AEW Dynamite. As a result, a portion of the AEW fans also tunes into Bellator to see him fight and see the rest of the show as well. This leads to fans of both brands now sharing more interest and both companies grow.
Why Jake Hager's involvement in AEW might hamper his MMA career
While there is a lot of positive coming from Hager's involvement in AEW, it might also hamper his MMA career.
The reason is simple.
Any MMA fighter will tell you, leading up to the fight, they train and focus for months on end until they finally enter the Octagon. With Hager's involvement in AEW, he would be traveling and working for Dynamite, and as a result, this would come as a distraction to his training.
Here comes the question now, which show does he value more? Does he prefer the wrestling show or the MMA show? At some point, he will have to make a decision on where he will place his priorities.
For the moment, with his undefeated streak still going strong despite the no-contest decision, he might not have to worry about this. However, this might still haunt him at some point down the line. Until then, the All-American will be making the best of what he has and both promotions will definitely benefit from that.